Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Discovering Printer Drift.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 30, 2015)
When you print a document, you may be surprised to find out that the placement of some text or graphic on the screen isn't exactly where you want it. For instance, you might have a one-inch left margin and you discover that on the printed page the margin isn't precisely at one inch from the edge of the paper.
Before assuming that Word has gone haywire, you'll want to determine if the problem has to do with your printer or not. Printers are mechanical beasts, and as they grab paper and move it through the printer, the paper can "drift" to the left or right (or up or down) relative to the mechanism that places the actual output on the paper. This can cause your margins to appear incorrect or the placement of other items incorrect.
To check out how much drift there is in your printer, try these general steps:
You should note that every printer is different, and therefore every printer will have different amounts of drift. The above steps will tell you the drift in the single printer on which you perform the steps; it won't necessarily tell you the drift in a different printer, even if the other printer is the same model.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7332) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Discovering Printer Drift.
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Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.